Knesset gives initial nod to bill cutting PA funding over payments to terrorists

A bill cutting funding to the PA over payments to terrorists and their families was approved 52-10. 

By: World Israel News Staff

A bill that would slash funding to the Palestinian Authority (PA) according to the sum the PA pays out to convicted terrorists and their families was approved in its first reading by the Knesset plenum on Monday.

Fifty-two lawmakers supported the bill, introduced by Member of Knesset (MK) Elazar Stern, which would deduct welfare payments paid out by the PA to Palestinian prisoners and their relatives from tax revenues Israel transfers annually to the PA. Only 10 lawmakers voted against the legislation.

Israel collects an estimated $2.1 billion in tax revenues for the PA, in accordance with the 1994 Paris Protocol, which governs economic relations with the PA, including import taxes on goods passing through Israel to the Palestinians.

According to supporters of the bill, a percentage of the PA budget, largely funded by American and European aid, is directed by Palestinian legislation to pay salaries and benefits to Palestinian terrorists imprisoned in Israel and to allowances for Palestinian families whose relatives have been killed or injured while perpetrating terror attacks.

These payments amount to more than NIS 1.1 billion ($350 million) per year.

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During the debate which preceded the vote, Stern said that “in the current situation, there is an incentive to engage in terror activities, and this postpones peace. Palestinians themselves have testified during interrogations that they continued to engage in terror in order to be imprisoned and receive more money. This law is meant not only to promote the safety of the citizens and residents of the State of Israel, but also to promote peace.”

Stealing Palestinian money?

MK Amir Ohana questioned how “this absurd situation has existed until now, with the State of Israel transferring funds to an Authority which glorifies, cares for and pays the families of terrorists. This law is part of the fight against terror.”

MK Dov Khenin of the Arab Joint List argued that the law is meant to “punish the Palestinian Authority and take from it money to which it is entitled, according to the Oslo Accords. This money is taxes collected from Palestinian workers; this is not some favor the State of Israel is doing; it is not as though Israel is willingly donating money to the Palestinian Authority.”

MK Aida Touma-Sliman, also of the Joint Arab List, accused Israel “stealing” Palestinian money.

According to Israel’s Defense Ministry, the PA in 2017 paid NIS 687 million to the so-called “martyrs’ families fund” and NIS 550 million to the Palestinian Prisoners’ Club — some seven percent of its overall budget.

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Palestinian prisoners serving 20-30 year sentences for carrying out terror attacks are eligible for a lifetime NIS 10,000 monthly stipend, the Defense Ministry said, citing PA figures.

Those who receive a three-to-five-year sentence get a monthly wage of NIS 2,000. Palestinian prisoners who are married, have children, live in Jerusalem, or hold Israeli citizenship receive additional payments.